Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This is how academic feuds start

As I was about to leave town, I had a somewhat awkward conversation with a guy (Gene) who I've liked since the first time I met him a couple years before. We agreed we don't want a long distance relationship, but that we should get to know each other and think about dating if we were ever living in the same place.

On a visit back to my former city, Gene and I were chatting and a few people picked up on the dynamic and remarked in a positive way on what a great guy Gene is, and so on. However, a friend of a friend called me up less than five minutes after I left a gathering where I'd been with her and Gene and others. She said that she knows that I date a lot, and noticed I was talking a lot with Gene. She'd just met Gene a few weeks ago, and really likes him and would be interested in pursuing him, but she doesn't want to intrude if I'm really interested. I said that I wasn't expecting the question and I would get back to her in the next day or two.

It seemed a bit strange that she would ask my permission. It's definitely none of my business who Gene dates. I'm not dating him, after all, and he should make his own decisions who he likes. On the other hand, maybe it made sense for her to put our acquaintanceship ahead of someone who could be a passing interest. On the third hand, the way she phrased the question, she may have expected me to say, "Yes, actually, there are 100 men lining up outside my window, it sounds like you don't have any, and I don't even live here. Go ahead."

I slept on it, and when I woke up I had a strange feeling that I would regret being polite-as-expected. Yes, I do date a lot, but mainly because I enjoy meeting random people and so the dates mostly yield funny stories and some escapism since very few of them are actually plausible. Gene is someone I have a lot in common with, I vividly remember the first time I met him, and while I haven't been dreaming about him for the past few years, there's really some actual potential there. I emailed her and said that this was the first time in a couple of years that we were able to consider dating, and I really hoped to give it a chance, especially since there was a chance that I would be living closer in a few months.

More recently, my interactions with her were extremely strained, literally tit for tat on the most minor issues having nothing to do with anything. The interaction bothered me so much that I mentioned it (without her name) to Gene who said he thought it was puerile and territorial.

She's a powerful impressive person, and totally the sort who could become the president of a major university. Many horrible novels could be written from this set up.

1 comment:

Chicago man said...

It seems that you and Gene have some things in common since the first time you met, and you should definitely not step down from your colleague/friend of a friend(?) In other words, your response to her is simply ambivalence/ambiguity/neutrality. Honestly, her behavior does not merit a response. Also, if you remain in contact with Gene he will decide on whom he wants to date. There's no rush for you to make a decision on the matter. I would argue that you should keep a healthy friendship with Gene no matter what happens. In my view, no one knows what the future will bring, and thus you should continue to email and phone him, and visit your former city with him in mine. This woman seems somewhat petty. Furthermore, the fact that she called you on the phone was quite bold, and demonstrates that she is extremely (read: extremely) jealous.